Thursday, 20 April 2017

Credit Cards with built-in fingerprint sensors

Mastercard have unveiled credit cards with built-in fingerprint sensors. Including the sensors on the cards avoids the need to upgrade the card readers. They are being trialed in South Africa by Absa Bank (Barclays Africa) and the Pick n Pay retail chain.

While fingerprint readers can be fooled and the use of fingerprints is sure to come with it's own set of problems, they should be compared to the current use of PINs and their use in differing security scenarios and retail environments around the world. For example some of the articles pick up on the inconvenience of having to visit a bank branch to have your fingerprint biometrics stored on the credit card, versus receiving the card in the post. However at least one South African Mastercard issuing bank hasn't distributed credit cards via the post for quite some time due to security concerns, so it differs from place to place.

If you are in a country that has had chip & PIN for a long time e.g. UK, Australia, South Africa, etc... it can be surprising that it isn't universal already and therefore rather staggering the scale Mastercard has to cover for example Chip & PIN is still being rolled out in the USA (70% consumer, 39% retailer coverage in 2016).

Engadget card demo
Mastercard press release
The Register
Tech Crunch